The Brothers Grimsby Review

Memories of the elephant

Spoofing Bond remains in vogue. Paul Fieg did so in Spy, and in pops Brothers Grimsby, which lays into the genre with an additional layer of economic satire. Mark Strong’s capable, hard-headed operative clashes with his long lost, dim-witted brother in a film rallying around the concept of family. And elephants. Violated elephants at that.

Dark, cruel, immature, childish; Brothers Grimsby is all of those, celebrating each of its crude labels. There are testicles and butt jokes – lots of those actually – plus people nearly drowning in ejaculate. If Sacha Baron Cohen hasn’t prepped audiences to go this far after Borat and Bruno, it would be nigh impossible to do so. Brothers Grimsby’s rising (and simultaneously sinking) sense of humor ventures into the uncharted for a studio film. For that, it’s brave.

The opening, which has kids cracking heroine gags, are still swallowed by what’s upcoming.

Yes, there sits a purpose under the film’s cathartic release of no-brow humor. Cohen’s boorish, football obsessed Nobby rudely interacts with society, taking up residence in bars while his nine children stay home. Parody of the British working class is not without its edge, and Brothers Grimsby won’t even try to level itself off by the end. Everyone becomes a hero against corruption, jesting at the income-privileged and telling the world anyone with the will can put a rocket up… well, “there” when the time comes.

Although little more than a derivative action thriller with an obvious twist, with Louis Leterrier (Transporter) at the helm, Brothers Grimsby hosts an unusual competence. Opening credits sit on a high-end first-person action scene, edited marvelously and braver in concept than most. While this laudable intensity shrinks as the film moves on, the segue into enjoyably callous comedy continues.

Brothers Grimsby’s back half swells with raunchy, politically inconsiderate gags, each raising stakes until they can go no further. The opening, which has public sex and kids cracking heroine gags, are still swallowed by what’s coming. What is initially rude blossoms into an all-out blitz of laughs, rising with each series of juvenile gags. It’s ceaseless, exploiting the lack of internal logic relentlessly. Comedic freedom is Brothers Grimsby’s greatest weapon, and it fires often.

The Brothers Grimsby Blu-ray screen shot 12

Video

Drab and often unexciting visually, Sony’s Blu-ray doesn’t give much punch since the source doesn’t either. Bathed in dry earth tones, images flatten with limited heft. Contrast and black levels work where possible, still not enough to pull up the video side.

Some flashback scenes host a grain filter which tests the compression parameters. Sony’s disc wins, making these shots a highlight. Their post-production touch-up pops the color and contrast, with a slight dream-like softness. Detail still escapes.

So it goes for the current sequences, a push toward the softer end of the modern digital era with enough fine detail. Location shoots extract gorgeous views of London cities and African landscapes. Close-ups perform well, rich in fidelity. A bit of a downer or not, digital cinematography from the Arri Alexa offers clarity in addition to an absence of noise.

Audio

While not a powerhouse, the DTS-HD mix makes its case with hearty gunfire and debris. Surrounds engage with fantastic frequency. First-person shots push headset dialog into the rear channels to create an ample spread, while imaging picks up any motion around the POV.

A finale pushes thousands of spectators into the stereos and rears, while still maintaining a hold on the action within. When a hose sprays directly toward the camera, water splashes into the rears. Fine dynamic range adds energy to these sequences, but to a lesser extent than the films Brothers Grimsby is parodying.

Extras

Bonuses are nearly as funny as the film itself. A line-o-rama may be brief (2:21) but hosts a number of gems. The gag reel (2:34) stands out as gold too. Three deleted and extended scenes are rare cases where each needs viewed, clocking in at 18 minutes as a pair. Elephant in the Room may be the classiest behind-the-scenes look of a non-classy scene ever, holding it together as the crew discusses the reality of a certain moment. Sadly, it’s the 12-minute making of which disappoints with a generic output.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process. Patreon supporters were able to access these screens early, view them as .pngs, and gain access to exclusives.